Some days, the only person I see in the quietest book shop in Notting Hill is Max. And I pay him to be there.
I work back in the office; he sorts out the shelves. We’re lucky if we say a dozen words to each other, some days.
"Off to lunch… See you tomorrow!"
Communication isn’t our strong point.
So, the day a film star walked into the shop it felt something like an alien being landing in Hyde Park.
The dark glasses and hat couldn’t hide that Hollywood smile. Thankfully, Max was out at the time. I can’t imagine how giddy he’d have become!
Throwing orange juice on her later in the street wasn’t my finest moment, though.
Anna laughs at that now, but she wasn’t laughing at the time. Being followed around by the paparazzi all the time can play havoc with a person’s sense of humour…
She soon got used to my, er, ‘unique’ methods of communication.
She described me asking this as ‘the low point’: “Would you like something to eat? Something to nibble? Apricots, soaked in honey? Quite why, no one knows, because it stops them tasting like apricots and makes them taste like honey... and if you wanted honey, you could just... buy honey. Instead of apricots. But nevertheless, they're yours if you want them.”
Conversational confetti is another term she uses. I tell her we can’t all have writers!
She shakes her head. “Oh, I don’t know, William, I thought I was always pretty clear even when you went off script!”
Ah, I think she’s referring to this conversation…
ME: I live in Notting Hill. You live in Beverly Hills. Everyone in the world knows who you are, my mother has trouble remembering my name.
ANNA: I'm also just a girl, standing in front of a boy, asking him to love her.
She often reminds me of this one, too…
ME: William Thacker, Horse & Hound. I enjoyed the movie very much. I was just wondering, did you ever consider having more horses in it?
ANNA: Well, we would have liked to. But it was difficult, obviously, being set in space.
“Look, now your shop is a book store, café, art gallery, and event space, you’re doing well. You’re even thinking about expanding…” Anna said.
I agreed. It was, somehow! Probably thanks to Anna’s business manager drawing up the new plans.
“Yes. I’d love a Travel Bookshop in Bath, Edinburgh…Swindon…”
Anna laughed. “Why not? But you’ll need to ensure you tick all the boxes with ISOs for health and safety, information security, quality management, food safety, and environmental management. And, since we both agree that your style of communication is, umm, a little unusual, how are you going to manage things between all those different sites?”
Yes, that would be a challenge for me. After all, I had thought giving Spike a job in the cafe was a good idea. It was a brief one, thankfully.
“My business manager swears by an online compliance software system called Mango. It keeps all of your records in the cloud so you can access them wherever you are, and so can you staff.” Anna said.
Sounded good to me!
Anna got that mischievous look in her eye, so I knew something was coming.
“I hear Horse & Hound are looking at it, too…”
Never forgets her lines, that one!
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